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- The Money Master, Volume 3. - 5/8 -


But yet this was different. There was no such shame here as had fallen on him seven years ago. But there was a shame after its kind; and if it were not averted, there was the end of the home, of the prestige, the pride and the hope of "M'sieu' Jean Jacques, philosophe."

"What shall not begin here at the Manor Cartier?" she asked with burning cheek.

"The shame--it shall not begin here."

"What shame, father?"

"Of marriage with a Protestant and an actor."

"You will not let me marry him?" she persisted stubbornly.

Her words seemed to shake him all to pieces. It was as though he was going through the older tragedy all over again. It had possessed him ever since the sight of Carmen's guitar had driven him mad three hours ago. He swayed to and fro, even as he did when his hand left the lever and he let the master-carpenter go free. It was indeed a philosopher under torture, a spirit rocking on its anchor. Just now she had put into words herself what, even in his fear, he had hoped had no place in her mind--marriage with the man. He did not know this daughter of his very well. There was that in her which was far beyond his ken. Thousands of miles away in Spain it had origin, and the stream of tendency came down through long generations, by courses unknown to him.

"Marry him--you want to marry him!" he gasped. "You, my Zoe, want to marry that tramp of a Protestant!"

Her eyes blazed in anger. Tramp--the man with the air of a young Alexander, with a voice like the low notes of the guitar thrown to the flames! Tramp!

"If I love him I ought to marry him," she answered with a kind of calmness, however, though all her body was quivering. Suddenly she came close to her father, a great sympathy welled up in her eyes, and her voice shook.

"I do not want to leave you, father, and I never meant to do so. I never thought of it as possible; but now it is different. I want to stay with you; but I want to go with him too."

Presently as she seemed to weaken before him, he hardened. "You can't have both," he declared with as much sternness as was possible to him, and with a Norman wilfulness which was not strength. "You shall not marry an actor and a Protestant. You shall not marry a man like that-- never--never--never. If you do, you will never have a penny of mine, and I will never--"

"Oh, hush--Mother of Heaven, hush!" she cried. "You shall not put a curse on me too."

"What curse?" he burst forth, passion shaking him. "You cursed my mother's baptism. It would be a curse to be told that you would see me no more, that I should be no more part of this home. There has been enough of that curse here. . . . Ah, why--why--" she added with a sudden rush of indignation, "why did you destroy the only thing I had of hers? It was all that was left--her guitar. I loved it so."

All at once, with a cry of pain, she turned and ran to the door--entering on the staircase which led to her room. In the doorway she turned.

"I can't help it. I can't help it, father. I love him--but I love you too," she cried. "I don't want to go--oh, I don't want to go! Why do you--?" her voice choked; she did not finish the sentence; or if she did, he could not hear.

Then she opened the door wide, and disappeared into the darkness of the unlighted stairway, murmuring, "Pity--have pity on me, holy Mother, Vierge Marie!" Then the door closed behind her almost with a bang.

After a moment of stupefied inaction Jean Jacques hurried over and threw open the door she had closed. "Zoe--little Zoe, come back and say good- night," he called. But she did not hear, for, with a burst of crying, she had hurried into her own room and shut and locked the door.

It was a pity, a measureless pity, as Mary the Mother must have seen, if she could see mortal life at all, that Zoe did not hear him. It might have altered the future. As it was, the Devil of Estrangement might well be content with his night's work.

CHAPTER XV

BON MARCHE

Vilray was having its market day, and everyone was either going to or coming from market, or buying and selling in the little square by the Court House. It was the time when the fruits were coming in, when vegetables were in full yield, when fish from the Beau Cheval were to be had in plenty--from mud-cats and suckers, pike and perch, to rock-bass, sturgeon and even maskinonge. Also it was the time of year when butter and eggs, chickens and ducks were so cheap that it was a humiliation not to buy. There were other things on sale also, not for eating and drinking, but for wear and household use--from pots and pans to rag- carpets and table-linen, from woollen yarn to pictures of the Virgin and little calvaries.

These were side by side with dried apples, bottled fruits, jars of maple syrup, and cordials of so generous and penetrating a nature that the currant and elderberry wine by which they were flanked were tipple for babes beside them. Indeed, when a man wanted to forget himself quickly he drank one of these cordials, in preference to the white whisky so commonly imbibed in the parishes. But the cordials being expensive, they were chiefly bought for festive occasions like a wedding, a funeral, a confirmation, or the going away of some young man or young woman to the monastery or the convent to forget the world. Meanwhile, if these spiritual argonauts drank it, they were likely to forget the world on the way to their voluntary prisons. It was very seldom that a man or woman bought the cordials for ordinary consumption, and when that was done, it would almost make a parish talk! Yet cordials of nice brown, of delicate green, of an enticing yellow colour, were here for sale at Vilray market on the morning after the painful scene at the Manor Cartier between Zoe and her father.

The market-place was full--fuller than it had been for many a day. A great many people were come in as much to "make fete" as to buy and sell. It was a saint's day, and the bell of St. Monica's had been ringing away cheerfully twice that morning. To it the bell of the Court House had made reply, for a big case was being tried in the court. It was a river- driving and lumber case for which many witnesses had been called; and there were all kinds of stray people in the place--red-shirted river- drivers, a black-coated Methodist minister from Chalfonte, clerks from lumber-firms, and foremen of lumber-yards; and among these was one who greatly loved such a day as this when he could be free from work, and celebrate himself!

Other people might celebrate saints dead and gone, and drink to 'La Patrie', and cry "Vive Napoleon!" or "Vive la Republique!" or "Vive la Reine!" though this last toast of the Empire was none too common--but he could only drink with real sincerity to the health of Sebastian Dolores, which was himself. Sebastian Dolores was the pure anarchist, the most complete of monomaniacs.

"Here comes the father of the Spanische," remarked Mere Langlois, who presided over a heap of household necessities, chiefly dried fruits, preserves and pickles, as Sebastian Dolores appeared not far away.

"Good-for-nothing villain! I pity the poor priest that confesses him."

"Who is the Spanische?" asked a young woman from her own stall or stand very near, as she involuntarily arranged her hair and adjusted her waist- belt; for the rakish-looking reprobate, with the air of having been somewhere, was making towards them; and she was young enough to care how she looked when a man, who took notice, was near. Her own husband had been a horse-doctor, farmer, and sportsman of a kind, and she herself was now a farmer of a kind; and she had only resided in the parish during the three years since she had been married to, and buried, Palass Poucette.

Old Mere Langlois looked at her companion in merchanting irritably, then she remembered that Virginie Poucette was a stranger, in a way, and was therefore deserving of pity, and she said with compassionate patronage: "Newcomer you--I'd forgotten. Look you then, the Spanische was the wife of my third cousin, M'sieu' Jean Jacques, and--"

Virginie Poucette nodded, and the slight frown cleared from her low yet shapely forehead. "Yes, yes, of course I know. I've heard enough. What a fool she was, and M'sieu' Jean Jacques so rich and kind and good- looking! So this is her father--well, well, well!"

Palass Poucette's widow leaned forward, and looked intently at Sebastian Dolores, who had stopped near by, and facing a couple of barrels on which were exposed some bottles of cordial and home-made wine. He was addressing himself with cheerful words to the dame that owned the merchandise.

"I suppose you think it's a pity Jean Jacques can't get a divorce," said Mere Langlois, rather spitefully to Virginie, for she had her sex's aversion to widows who had had their share of mankind, and were afterwards free to have someone else's share as well. But suddenly repenting, for Virginie was a hard-working widow who had behaved very well for an outsider--having come from Chalfonte beyond the Beau Chevalshe added: "But if he was a Protestant and could get a divorce, and you did marry him, you'd make him have more sense than he's got; for you've a quiet sensible way, and you've worked hard since Palass Poucette died."

"Where doesn't he show sense, that M'sieu' Jean Jacques?" the younger woman asked.

"Where? Why, with his girl--with Ma'm'selle." "Everybody I ever heard speaks well of Ma'm'selle Zoe," returned the other warmly, for she had a very generous mind and a truthful, sentimental heart. Mere Langlois sniffed, and put her hands on her hips, for she had a daughter of her own; also she was a relation of Jean Jacques, and therefore resented in one way the difference in their social position, while yet she plumed herself on being kin.

"Then you'll learn something now you never knew before," she said. "She's been carrying on--there's no other word for it--with an actor fellow--"

"Yes, yes, I did hear about him--a Protestant and an Englishman."

"Well, then, why do you pretend you don't know--only to hear me talk, is


The Money Master, Volume 3. - 5/8

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